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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Can We Start a Blogswarm Covering Congress?

If you haven't yet watched the Pajamas Media video report on Monday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the NSA anti-terrorist eavesdropping program, go here and watch it, then ask yourself this question:

"What if there was a Paul Mirengoff blogger covering every major congressional issue?"

Unlike the mainstream reporters seen every day on Capitol Hill, Mirengoff doesn't use hair spray, would never even consider taking voice lessons to get rid of an accent or have a journalism degree on his office wall. He is a brilliant and accomplished lawyer, but mainstream journalists probably consider Mirengoff an amateur or a wannabe at their profession.

But there is nothing amatuerish about what Mirengoff and Pajamas Media accomplished yesterday in covering the Judiciary Committee's NSA hearing. Mirengoff asked tough questions and expected straight answers.

Senators like Ted Kennedy, D-MA, and Dick Durbin, D-IL, clearly didn't know what to do with Mirengoff because they are accustomed to routinely being given softballs from the mainstream media journalists covering Congress. Mirengoff refused to let the senators off so easily.

Now imagine what might happen if every Member of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, knew that he or she would have to face two, three many Mirengoffs every day! Would Joe and Jill Public choose the candyland softballs of the MSM or the no-more-BS grilling of a bunch of Mirengoffs? Who knows, political campaigns and candidates might even get real!

Pajamas Media is a bold first step towards making such a dream a reality on Capitol Hill and elsewhere in American government, but only a first step. PJM is presently the Model T of Blog journalism but it - or some other entity not yet created - must become the Ford GT of Blog journalism if things are to be genuinely changed for the better in the nation's capitol.

How do we do that? Would you subscribe to an expanded Pajamas Media news service covering Congress? Paid subscription-based journalism on the Internet has not been successful except in very rare cases - i.e. The Wall Street Journal and a few others.

So where do we go from here? Having been a newspaper reporter and editor, I can't help but get excited thinking about what could be accomplished, even with just six smart bloggers on Capitol Hill. I know such a crew could really shake things up.

As Hugh Hewitt observes: "It should be a badge of honor among Hill reporters if a Senator or Representative bristles at a question that, while put respectfully, obliges the elected to actually pause and think."

And answer honestly.

Paul Mirengoff and Pajamas Media gave us a small but important look into the future yesterday. Tell me how you think we can get there.